Uproar over fibre cabinets in St Albans
Many people complain about slow broadband, but with the Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) roll-out requiring new street cabinets in addition to the existing ones, the issue of street clutter is surfacing more and more. St Albans seems to be the latest area to have problems with locating the new cabinets - The Herts Advertiser 24 has more detail on what is happening.
There is a duality to this as many people are clamouring for better/faster broadband, but to improve the communications infrastructure in the UK requires work being carried in our streets. The old green telephone cabinets have been in the same location for so many years, that many are now receding into the background, the new Openreach cabinets are alas larger and with new paint will be very obvious, and the last few years has seen a rise in people complaining about street clutter.
Openreach in theory has three options for the FTTC cabinets, but is favouring the larger cabinet, probably because it gives better capacity for expansion in the future. Smaller options such as a box mounted on top of an old cabinet, or a sleeve going over an existing cabinet are possible, but these are probably only envisaged for cabinets which serve a smaller number of lines. Even where fibre to the home is being installed using the sewers, there is still the need for a small trench crossing a property to get the fibre into the building.
The issue of conservation areas will also impact on FTTC coverage, as it did in Muswell Hill, St Albans and other places. BT has code powers that means outside conservation areas they do not need planning permission. The problem is that the ideal location may be in the conservation area but many of the properties are outside it. More expensive solutions of course are possible, such as waterproofing hardware so that it can be located underground, but this makes general maintenance more expensive.